Being worried for your children and their grasp on religion is nothing new. With every generation, the cycle is repeated, only modified by the vices and issues of different times.
In classrooms in the past, children were largely taught to memorise in order to learn. Now, they are encouraged to question, give their views, and reason with their peers and teachers.
“Say, "I only advise you of one [thing] - that you stand for Allah, [seeking truth] in pairs and individually, and then give thought." There is not in your companion any madness. He is only a warner to you before a severe punishment.”
These are the building blocks to developing individuals who are able to think critically, a skill that is of utmost importance in today’s fast-changing world. The problem arises when these same children and youths attend some religious classes that, unfortunately, still adhere to the old-school ways of teaching.
There, these same children and youths are told to simply memorise. They are told not to think and question, and are even discouraged from doing so. Teachings are largely focused on the negative things to be avoided, such as sins and hell.
But these factors hardly encourage love and interest for Islam. As parents of today’s young generation, what can we do to nurture the love and interest within their souls?
Our book of guidance, the Al-Quran, is full of Allah’s commands for us to think and reflect, except in matters that Nabi s.a.w. has specifically told us not to think about. An example of the latter would be things that we cannot find the answer to, such as the essence of Allah s.w.t.
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.
Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], "Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”
Surah Ali’ Imran, Verses 190 - 191
We are commanded to ponder upon Allah’s creations. Thus, we should nurture the natural curiosity in today’s children and youths. Allah has created this earth as a source of reflection, observation and knowledge for us to enrich our heart, mind and soul.
The generation of youths today think differently from the ones before, partly due to the evolution of education that now encourages them to think critically, reflect and ask questions. In line with this, their religious education should also encourage their natural curiosity, so as to keep their interest and motivation alive, insyaAllah.